LINGUIST List 5.85

Sat 22 Jan 1994

Calls: reviewers of _Beyond Modularity_

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  1. "Stevan Harnad", Beyond Modularity: BBS Call for Book Reviewers

Message 1: Beyond Modularity: BBS Call for Book Reviewers

Date: Sat, 15 Jan 94 21:15:02 ESBeyond Modularity: BBS Call for Book Reviewers
From: "Stevan Harnad" <harnadPrinceton.EDU>
Subject: Beyond Modularity: BBS Call for Book Reviewers

Below is the abstract of a book that will be accorded multiple book
review in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), an international,
interdisciplinary journal that provides Open Peer Commentary on
important and controversial current research in the biobehavioral and
cognitive sciences. Reviewers must be current BBS Associates or
nominated by a current BBS Associate. To be considered as a reviewer
for this book, to suggest other appropriate reviewers, or for
information about how to become a BBS Associate, please send email to:

harnadclarity.princeton.edu or harnadpucc.bitnet or write to:
BBS, 20 Nassau Street, #240, Princeton NJ 08542 [tel: 609-921-7771]

To help us put together a balanced list of reviewers, please give some
indication of the aspects of the topic on which you would bring your
areas of expertise to bear if you are selected as a reviewer. Please
also indicate whether you already have a copy of the book or will need
one if you are selected. The author's article-length precis of the
book is available for inspection by anonymous ftp according to the
instructions that follow after the abstract.
____________________________________________________________________
 BBS Multiple Book Review of:
 BEYOND MODULARITY: A DEVELOPMENTAL PERSPECTIVE ON COGNITIVE
 SCIENCE Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 1992 (234 pp.)

 Annette Karmiloff-Smith
 Cognitive Development Unit,
 Medical Research Council,
 4 Taviton Street,
 London WC1H 0BT, U.K.
 Electronic Mail:
 annettecdu.ucl.ac.uk

 KEYWORDS: cognitive development, connectionism, constructivism,
 developmental stages, Fodor, modularity, nativism, Piaget,
 representational redescription, species differences.

 ABSTRACT: Beyond Modularity attempts a synthesis of Fodor's
 anti-constructivist nativism and Piaget's anti-nativist
 constructivism. Contra Fodor, I argue that: (1) the study of
 cognitive development is essential to cognitive science, (2) the
 module/central processing dichotomy is too rigid, and (3) the mind
 does not begin with prespecified modules, but that development
 involves a gradual process of modularization. Contra Piaget, I
 argue that: (1) development rarely involves stage-like
 domain-general change, and (2) domain-specific predispositions give
 development a small but significant kickstart by focusing the
 infant's attention on proprietary inputs. Development does not
 stop at efficient learning. A fundamental aspect of human
 development ("Representational Redescription") is the hypothesized
 process by which information that is IN a cognitive system becomes
 progressively explicit knowledge TO that system. Development thus
 involves two complementary processes of progressive modularization
 and rendering explicit. Empirical findings on the child as
 linguist, physicist, mathematician, psychologist and notator are
 discussed in support of the theoretical framework. Each chapter
 concentrates first on the initial state of the infant mind/brain
 and on subsequent domain-specific learning in infancy and early
 childhood. They then go on to explore data on older children's
 problem solving and theory building, with particular focus on
 evolving cognitive flexibility. Throughout the book there is an
 emphasis on the status of representations underlying different
 capacities and on the multiple levels at which knowledge is stored
 and accessible. Finally, consideration is given to the need for
 more formal developmental models, and the Representational
 Redescription framework is compared with connectionist simulations
 of development. The concluding sections consider what is special
 about human cognition and offer some speculations about the status
 of representations underlying the structure of behavior in other
 species.
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